Furthermore, Berger has a slick campaign website that seemed aimed at a statewide campaign. The site, paid for by the Phil Berger Committee, has a big logo in the upper-right hand corner that reads "Phil Berger" on two lines and "Senate" on the third line. All that's missing is the word "for." Other portions of the site tout media coverage of the ad campaign with a press release that reads, "Berger Launches Six-Figure Media Campaign, Holds Hagan Accountable."
Ray Martin, a spokesman for Berger, told TPM on Friday that he had "not announced." As late as Thursday afternoon local reports said Berger was undecided on running for Senate.
The site could just be devoted to Berger's re-election prospects. But there aren't currently and candidates saying they'll run against Berger for his state Senate seat, and polling has shown him in the lead among possible and committed candidates in the Republican primary against Hagen: state House Speaker Thom Tillis and U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers.
"Liberals like Obama and Kay Hagan say 'no!'" The voiceover in the ad says. "Now, thanks to Phil Berger, voters must show a valid voter ID to vote."
Berger's website indicates he plans to run on the state's new voter ID laws which Democrats and liberal groups have strongly criticized. The laws, which North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed into law in August, require voters to present voter IDs at the polls. The laws also reduce the window for early voting. Hagan herself asked the United States attorney general to review the law the day McCrory signed the bill into law.
"Protecting the fundamental right of our citizens to vote should be among the federal government's highest priorities," Hagan wrote in the letter. "In response to voting restrictions signed into law yesterday, I strongly encourage the Justice Department to immediately review North Carolina House Bill 589 and take all appropriate steps to protect federal civil rights and the fundamental right to vote."
If Berger does jump into the race he joins a few other North Carolina Republicans. On Thursday Rev. Mark Harris jumped into the Republican primary. North Carolina House Speaker Tom Tillis (R) is also running in the race.
But some political operatives in the state are skeptical that Berger will run.
"I personally don't think he's going to run," according to a North Carolina Democrat. "He is very powerful in Raleigh. He and Tillis don't get along. My guess is he's just trolling Tillis to mess with him. "